Vancouver-based Slumberkins brings joy to Glenwood Heights Primary students

Jan. 12, 2023

More than 250 kindergarten and first grade students at Glenwood Heights Primary School received a special surprise after winter break: their very own Slumberkins pal to take home.

Slumberkins was created by Kelly Oriard and Callie Christensen, two Prairie High School graduates who went on to start their own careers in education. Seven years ago, the best friends both became pregnant at the same time. While they were on maternity leave, the idea of Slumberkins was born.

“We started Slumberkins because we wanted kids to learn about feelings,” Oriard told the gathered students when she and Christensen visited the school on Jan. 5. “We wanted you to learn about how to be a community, stay connected and understand your feelings.”

“We’re so blessed to be able to give back,” Christensen added, “especially to a community where we grew up.”

Oriard and Christensen used their own backgrounds in education to create a social-emotional learning curriculum based around the Slumberkins characters. The curriculum makes use of the various creatures, such as Honey Bear, Otter, Fox and others, to help impart lessons about things like understanding and managing emotions, solving problems, empathy and group cohesion.

“I see [these students] each week with each Slumberkin,” said Glenwood Heights Counselor Deborah Wood, “so they are very familiar with their Slumberkin and the messages that they are helping to teach. To see the looks on their faces when they got their very own Slumberkins to take home was just amazing.”

Students with Slumberkins“I’ve been at this for 25 years and this is by far the best that I have seen in really connecting with the kids around social-emotional learning,” said Glenwood Heights Principal Antonio Lopez. “It’s just amazing.”

Slumberkins is now one of the region’s fastest-growing businesses and includes a popular television show on Apple TV+ produced by the Jim Henson Company. The donations are a direct result of Slumberkins sales during Giving Tuesday, where for every purchase the company made a donation to a school or classroom in need. Over $35,000 is being donated to schools in the Vancouver and Portland area by gifting new Slumberkins creatures and books, and thousands more is being donated to schools nationwide.

“We both graduated from the Battle Ground School District, and to have the curriculum being piloted here and being loved and adored by the kids just makes all of it so worth it,” Christensen said. “It really fulfills the mission that we set out to do as educators in the first place.”

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